Village impresses at Fontwell
Neil Mulholland's Shantou Village made a seamless transition to fences in the Josie O'Leary, Nicola, Beck And Archie Pineapple Novices' Chase at Fontwell.
Shantou Village made a winning start over fences
A classy novice hurdler last season, he picked up an injury at the Cheltenham Festival.
His only previous defeat before that came on soft ground so Mulholland was keen to get him started early when the ground is at its best.
Ridden by Noel Fehily, he only faced three rivals and two of those were very much outclassed.
Only Abidjan looked to have a chance of giving him something to think about but he fell on the second circuit leaving, the long odds-on favourite (2-11) clear.
His only blemish came at the final fence at which he stood too far off, but he never looked like falling and coasted home for an effortless victory.
Mulholland said: "I was very happy, Noel said he wasn't doing a stroke in the straight, he jumped fantastic.
"He was getting lonely and looking around but if he has company in a stronger race we can forget about that.
"The plan is to come back here on September 30 over the course and distance, two-five, and then on October 21 there's a three-mile novice chase at Cheltenham.
"Last year we started at Carlisle before stepping up so we'll just start quietly again. Obviously he has to go on now, but this was good education and a nice day out."
Fehily told At The Races: "He's quite a lazy horse anyway so to go round on your own – I thought it was a great performance.
"He jumped lovely, he winged two out but just had a little stumble at the back of it.
"He was having a look around going to the last and that was my worry – he just looks around a lot and I thought he might do something silly, that's all that was.
"He's a very intelligent horse with loads of scope, he can come out of your hands and get out the other side easy or he can pop away – he's very straightforward.
"I didn't know Sam (Twiston-Davies on Abidjan) had fallen, I was hoping he might give me a race."
He added: "I won on him at Carlisle last year and wasn't sure if he was any good or not, but Neil always said he was and he showed what he could do.
"Compared to this time last year he's streets ahead."